Monday, April 23, 2007

Don't Try This At Home

It's not often (well, maybe ever) that I would otherwise show a neat little plant that I would then tell you not to grow; the lesser celandine is the one exception. At the top is a new variety just planted last year, Ranunculus ficaria Cupreus, with shiny gold flowers that are even deeper gold in the center. The foliage is light green, mottled with silver. Just to show what a more mature plant of Ranunculus ficaria will look like, at bottom is the variety Brazen Hussy, with lemon yellow flowers and foliage that looks like it was dipped in black ink. Ranunculus ficaria (commonly called lesser celadine) has become an invasive species in the woodlands of the cooler, northern parts of this country; even as close to us as Wisconsin. I cannot therefore recommend this plant, but I think it is just too hot and dry here in Iowa in the summer for the lesser celadine to get frisky and venture out of the garden; it would rather lie about the pool drinking a lemonade.
There are scads of named varieties available in Great Britain (ficaria is native to Europe and western Asia). I've slowly accumulated about a dozen different plants, and I make a big fuss over each one every spring; they are just cute as the dickens when they start putting out their crisp little leaves when there is still snow on the ground, and the shiny little flowers are a complete delight. But kids... don't try this at home!
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I like the similarly yellow member of the Ranunculaceae, Eranthis hyemalis. It's an early spring bulb, which likes deciduous shade, in a woodsy, humusy soil that's moist in winter and early spring. They go dormant by midsummer, and so tolerate dry heat then. They multiply if they like their position, but are not invasive or hard to deal with. I just posted a photo and info on my blog.
Gosh, you have new things every day!!
We waited so long for it, I am really going to enjoy this spring!
dw... I likes the eranthis too! I'm SLOWLY getting several types of eranthis going. I had a lot of trouble with moles popping the little bulbs out of the ground, but my mole barrier seems to be doing the trick, so I'm getting them established now.
Sissy... I just know this spring is going to go so fast.
I have 'Brazen Hussy' too, and it is very well-behaved. Almost too well-behaved, just one tiny patch after 3 years. Unlike ranunculus repens, which is the bane of my existence.
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